2023 (20), №1

Scholasticism in Economics as a Symptom of an Unavoidable Crisis

For citation: 

Orekhovsky, P. A. & Nureev, R. M. (2023). Scholasticism in Economics as a Symptom of an Unavoidable Crisis. AlterEconomics, 20(1), 9–28. https://doi.org/10.31063/AlterEconomics/2023.20-1.2


An academic text being described as ‘scholastic’ is usually perceived as a criticism, pointing to the text’s formal, dogmatic character. This characteristic was used from time to time in relation to the works of social scientists in the USSR. This term is much less common in modern academia, including the discussion of modern economic writings. This does not mean, however, that many of these papers do not deserve to be described as such, given the ever-increasing number of publications. The article puts forward a hypothesis that there is a connection between the scholastic style of reasoning and the construction of economic texts, signifying the onset of a crisis in economic research, accompanied by a transition to a full-scale socio-economic crisis. This hypothesis is being tested on the basis of two historical precedents — medieval scholasticism proper and the political economy of socialism. In both cases, the term ‘scholastic’ was applied relatively frequently to published texts. In addition, during the periods of feudal or Soviet scholasticism, the dominant role was played by religion or, in the case of the Soviet Union, ideology and its dominance was also reinforced by power hierarchies. While in the case of feudalism it was the Vatican that held the ‘monopoly on truth’, in the USSR this role was played by Marxism-Leninism and the Politburo of the CPSU. In the case of the Middle Ages, the authors use Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologia as the main object of discursive analysis and as for the Soviet period, the analysis focuses on the monograph Political Economy — Theoretical Foundation of the CPSU’s Policy published in 1989 by Soviet theoretical economists. Along with these sources, we also look at the works of A. Greif and E. Gaidar, showing a critical discrepancy between the scholastic discourse and economic reality.

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Petr A. Orekhovsky — Dr. Sci. (Econ.), Professor, Head of the Philosophy and Methodology of Economic Science Sector, Chief Research Associate, Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences; https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2816-1298 (32, Nakhimovsky prospect, Moscow, 117218, Russian Federation; e-mail: orekhovskypa@mail.ru).

Rustem M. Nureev — Dr. Sci. (Econ.), Professor, Honored Worker of the Higher School of the Russian Federation, Scientific Director of the Department of Economic Theory, Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation; Chief Research Associate, Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences; https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1407-2657 (49, Leningradsky prospect, Moscow, 125993, Russian Federation; 32, Nakhimovsky prospect, Moscow, 117218, Russian Federation; e-mail: nureev50@gmail.com).

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